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Right now if you edit a post during the grace period the following will happen:

  • The post is silently changed without any notice (such as "last edited 1 min ago")
  • The added/removed/changed text is not available in the revision history (there is no revision entry at all)
  • The question is not bumped to the top of the activity page
  • The edit doesn't count towards the auto-CW limit and is ineligible for certain badges (such as Strunk & White).

Now, the last 2 points are totally fine but the first two cause a great deal of confusion to both experienced and new users.

I propose that every edit made in the grace period adds a new revision and triggers the "last edited" notification on the post body, while not bumping the question or count towards the CW limit.

This has several advantages:

  • It follows the principle of least astonishment. The observable behavior of every edit is the same.
  • It allows us to read past revisions (for curiosity or other reasons)
  • In general, it will cause much less confusion

In fact, I don't really see any advantage of the current approach.. Maybe less cluttering on the revision page? Does it really matter? I don't think so

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Note that this (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/39635/…) is related, but not a duplicate! (I also proposed the very same thing in a comment there) –  Andreas Bonini Feb 23 '10 at 2:17
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Maybe less cluttering on the revision page?

That. I'll sometimes make a half-dozen or more tiny edits within that grace period, everything from fixing minor formatting or spelling issues to re-writing awkward sentences (or occasionally, entire paragraphs...) that I missed during my pre-submit proof-reading. Is there any real benefit to holding onto such information?

...and... Is there any real down-side to throwing it away? If you need the revision history to remember what changes you just made to someone else's post, then maybe you should be spending more time entering revision comments before submitting...

Does it really matter?

If I come back a day, month, or year later and make a major revision to a post, quickly followed by the usual half-dozen minor revisions, what are the chances anyone viewing the revision history cares about seeing anything but the difference between the current revision and the one that was active 10 minutes ago? Remember, there's currently no easy way to compare non-consecutive revisions...

Here's a thought: if you must edit something that's been posted or edited less than 5 minutes ago, then after submitting your changes, check the revision history before you wander off! This is a good idea anyway, since someone else may have submitted an edit as you were submitting yours, and although that will show up in the revision history you'll still have stomped on a (potentially-valuable) change. If your revision contains changes you didn't intend to make, then edit it and correct the problem... within the grace period on your edit! Remember, there's no information truly lost here - if you removed something accidentally, it'll still be in the revision history where you can find and restore it.

It also doesn't hurt to leave a comment when you plan to make significant changes to a post and think someone else might wish to do the same... You can then remove the comment when you're done.

Note that a less dramatic (though still technically-challenging, I'm sure) change would be to improve the handling of edit collisions such that edits within the grace period and edits submitted near-simultaneously are detected reliably.

See also:

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Since March 2011, a warning is shown after you save, if a conflict occurs. –  Arjan Apr 10 '11 at 20:46
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